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Coaches Week Highlight: Developing Coaches Through Mentorship

Happy Coaches Week! At viaSport, we are committed to increasing development opportunities for coaches across the province. Mentorship is an essential tool for coach development and retention, which benefits mentees, mentors and sport organizations. In partnership with the BC Games Society, viaSport supports the delivery of the BC Games Coach Mentorship Program, which develops key mentors in sport and increases the capacity of sport leaders in B.C. This Coaches Week, we are pleased to celebrate and share some of the successes of the BC Summer Games Coach Mentorship Program!

What is the BC Games Coach Mentorship Program?

The BC Games Coach Mentorship Program was first delivered at the 2020 BC Winter Games. This year, the program ran for the first time at the BC Summer Games, which took place in Prince George this past July. In the months leading up to the Games, four Provincial Sport Organizations (PSOs) and coach mentors took part in the program, representing BC Rugby, Canoe Kayak BC, Rowing BC, and Triathlon BC.

The main focus of the BC Games Coach Mentorship program is to develop the mentoring skills of targeted coaches in each participating sport. The PSO mentor coaches took part in NCCP mentorship training, monthly meetings with lead mentor, Kurt Innes, who oversaw the development of each mentor coach, and engagement with other coach mentors prior to and during the BC Games.

Overall, the program feedback has been very positive. In a survey of the participating PSOs, all respondents expressed that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience in the mentorship program, and all respondents would recommend the program to other coaches or colleagues. One PSO representative reflected on the program’s impact on not only the mentor coaches, but also the mentee coaches:

“Our new coaches had the opportunity to learn directly from our mentor coach. Knowledge transfer from mentor to mentee was invaluable for our coaches as they had no experience coaching young athletes or attending BC Games.” 

While the first two iterations of the BC Games Coach Mentorship Program have been highly successful, viaSport will continue to improve this program using feedback from the PSO participants and the lead mentor. The lessons learned so far may be useful for sport organizations that are interested in implementing or strengthening their current mentorship programs.

What we learned: Goal-setting, collaboration, and representation

One key takeaway from this program is the importance of goal setting. According to participant feedback, establishing and meeting individual coach mentor goals has a significant impact on coaches’ satisfaction with the program. Through the use of a mentorship planning tool and regular check-ins with the lead mentor, coaches can be supported to develop and meet their mentorship goals.

Participating coach mentors were interested in more multi-sport collaboration and networking. They felt that their level of engagement would be higher if there were more formalized meetings with their mentee coaches during the Games. While it can be difficult to prioritize mentorship activities during the busy event schedule, future mentorship programs designed around an event could benefit from including formalized mentor-mentee meetings and a meeting for all mentor coaches to share their experiences and best practices.

Timing is another critical consideration for an event-based mentorship program. While the current BC Games Coach Mentorship Program runs in the four months leading up to the event, there is some interest in extending this timeline to provide more flexibility for the participants and the PSOs. It is recommended that training and development activities take place early on in the program. Similar programs should consider participants’ time constraints and sport-specific contexts when developing a timeline for program delivery. 

Finally, mentorship is a useful tool to support underrepresented groups in coaching, such as women and racialized individuals. The BC Games Coach Mentorship Program is working to actively promote the program in a way that encourages a diverse participant base, and we would encourage other mentorship programs to do the same.

What's next: upcoming multi-sport mentorship opportunities

At viaSport, supporting B.C. coaches is a top priority. We’re thrilled to have the BC Games Coach Mentorship Program up and running and we are currently accepting applications for the 2022 BC Winter Games! To learn more about viaSport’s current mentorship programs and for coach mentorship resources, check out the Coach Mentorship page on our website.